The Non-Fungible Token craze of 2021 changed the world of art forever. Not only did NFTs change how millions of people thought about art but they also allowed them to act to enjoy it by democratizing access to the world of art. Unfortunately, some of the most important pieces of art have remained inaccessible to fans due to them being worth millions of dollars, which most of them can’t afford. Tribul, a blockchain-powered auction house, is looking to change that.
For decades, auction houses like Christie’s and Sotheby’s have been making headlines for selling some of the most unique and expensive art pieces in the world. Back in 2021, Sotheby’s and Christie’s saw a turnover of $4.4 billion and $4 billion respectively. Compare this to the $824 million by Poly Auction and you can see why the British-founded art houses are the dominant names in the world of art.
Now, a new startup by the name of Tribul has emerged from stealth with the mission to truly democratize art by bringing even the most exclusive works to the public. First envisioned in their college dorm room Vanderbilt University neuroscience graduates Aaron Hakimi and Neel Bute, Tribul was founded in 2021. The startup will facilitate crowdfunded bidding via its platform through a blockchain-based protocol.
Just like Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs), Tribul users will be able to contribute toward the acquisition of works of art. If the bidding is successful, each user will receive a distinct unit that represents ownership over the work of art, which will be transferred to a secure location after being “tokenized”. The tokens will represent a user’s stake in the work, allow them to participate in related decision-making processes, and facilitate the minting of pieces of digital ownership that can then be traded in a secondary market.
“This is a new frontier for the collector’s economy. We believe that our model will bring fresh faces into the enduring world of fine art and culture,” says Tribul’s co-founder and co-CEO Neel Bute. “Art exists as a borderless universal language, so it only makes sense to create an environment where it can be universally owned and appreciated.”
Tribul’s beta platform will be publicly accessible in October, with its first action being an Andy Warhol original print. Unlike other Warhol works auctioned by traditional auction houses, Tribul will allow anyone to participate in the bidding instead of a selected number of bidders. According to co-founder Aaron Hakimi, the platform is also structured in a way that allows it to “offer a take rate that’s 70% lower than typical auction houses.”
So far, the startup has received support from expert advisors like former CEO & President of eBay Devin Wenig and former SVP & Head of Digital at Christie’s John Caruso, both of them with decades of experience in the world of art and online auctions.
“For too long, the legacy art auction houses have represented a closed network of buyers and sellers, trading property and cash, back and forth within that closed loop,” said Caruso about the role he expects the platform to play in the world of art. “Tribul’s strategy smashes the gates of exclusivity… this will encourage a greater diversity of buyers and will ultimately drive hammer prices higher.”
Speculation has been the bane of art-related NFTs for a long time, with mainstream media and critics pointing out their shortcomings and the get-rich-quick nature of some of the most popular projects. With the NFT craze long behind, projects like Tribul are aiming to make blockchain and NFTs a dominant force in the art world by having them fulfill their true purpose: Democratization.